Just a reminder that English can be confusing

Many people who study English as a second language often complain about the difficulty of learning it, mainly because of the ambiguity of words.

Think of the many words which sound alike but, are spelled differently. They are used different ways in a sentence so if you do not have the correct spelling, they can mean something quite different. Words can trick up those new to the language, but even as writers, we need to be careful we use the correct form of the word.

For example the words too, to or two, can be very confusing if you mess up and do not use the right spelling. We know that ‘two’ is the number and ‘too’ is used to show how much and ‘to’ means just going there. We can have the very same trouble with ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. Whereas, ‘your’ shows possession, ‘you’re a contraction of the words you are.

Then English gives us words that are spelled exactly the same but can have two different meanings. Often you can use them as a noun or a verb such as the word ‘wound.’ One is an injury and the other is to wrap around something. Another example is the word ‘present’ used as a verb meaning to give someone something, used as a noun can mean a gift. There is the word ‘produce’, to show something and ‘produce fruits and veggies. The word ‘refuse’ can mean to not accept something when used as a verb or the trash that is considered ‘refuse.’ The word ‘desert’ is capable of the same problems, the action of leaving you or the place where sand and scorpions reign. Not to be confused with ‘dessert’ since the extra ‘s’ indicates this is the sweet treat usually eaten after a meal.

It is easy to see why English as a second language can give newcomers headaches. It even can trip up those of us for which English is the first or only language.

For a writer, it should be an automatic point of editing since it is so very easy to write the wrong word form when you are in the throes of writing and focusing on your story.


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